Conversation As Parents: Part 1
Should We Teach Our Kids To Be Colour Blind?
It’s kind of obvious when I tell you where I am from, where I grew up, it was not very diverse. I grew up in Monaco until I was 18yrs old, my friends were not very diverse. I come from a family that is spread across the world between Europe and Uruguay and my parents taught me to be inclusive, but also colour blind.
For instance, my parents used to host foster kids during the summer, a couple of whom were mixed race. My mother now fosters children from Africa in need of a heart surgery that go back to their home after recovering.
I remember one story when I was a teenager; we used to meet the husband of my mother’s colleague who was Black.
I remember my mother telling my brother before he met him for the first time that he looked a bit darker than us and that it was fine but not something to discuss openly or comment on, because we are all equal and humans. Whilst this came from a good intention, little did she know that the fact that colour is not discussed or even sometimes taboo is the reason why there is discrimination.
Being Colour blind is not how kids should be raised. We need to name the difference, we need to let kids ask the questions about what they see different to them. This is how we create inclusion. Acknowledging the difference and making sure we understand those differences and teach our children to be curious.
I thought up until the recent events that not talking about colour and not show any discrimination was enough to show that I was not racist.
I am married to a British Pakistani and my 3 children are all mixed race. I therefore am in a position where I need to think of how and when to talk about race with my children. I knew I had to but I just thought I had time. We do not have the time for it. Racism starts very early and talking about colour in some Black families start as little as 3 years old. I think it should be the same in any other household whether Black, White or Mixed Race. Anne says that her daughter started to talk about colour as early as 5y old.
Teaching my children that we are in a society where if you are considered white (by simply looking white) you will get more privilege, be treated differently whether you like it or not, whether you are aware of it or not, than if you are black. This is what is called White Privilege. Knowing that there is difference in this world and that it is ok because at the end we are all human.
What I mean by that is also that to the person who looks different to you, you are also different to them. There is no hierarchy in the human race however the hierarchy is in the policies and the society we live in.
This is why white privilege is unfair because it means there is a hierarchy of privilege. We need to actively seek to fight that and call it out when we see it.
I also realised that I was not preparing my children for racism. Whilst they look white, aside from my older son who looks a bit more Asian, they will face racism. I want to equip them with understanding and knowing how to respond to the situation.
I know that I need to keep learning as at different ages there will be different ways the children can respond. Luckily there are so many resources out there that it will be easier to have those conversations. Luckily, we can ask our friends of colour to share what they are doing and we can make sure that those conversations are the ones our children will hear.
When I hear parents arguing whether they should allow their children screen time, I sometimes reply that they should perhaps have the screen time with them. What if you use that screen time to follow people that will bring value to their lives? Make it an intention to talk about them, understand from them and share what they think.
As a white mother I will make it my intention to make sure that my children are surrounded by a diverse group of children and parents. I am also having the conversations with my white friends about this and I am questioning what their intentions are, I am trying to talk to them and educate them as much as possible.